ORLANDO, Fla. — The sudden retirement of Norv Turner and promotion of Pat Shurmur to Vikings offensive coordinator last season — a role that Shurmur gained permanently this week — finally had former first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson at ease.
While he thought Turner was doing a fine job, Patterson said that Shurmur came to him personally and assured Patterson that he would see more targets. Turner left the club on Nov. 2. On Nov. 6, Patterson had a season-high eight targets. In his final nine games he had 46 targets after just 24 over the first seven.
“Pat told me ‘Let’s get you the ball'” Patterson told me Wednesday. “And I saw a lot of that happening for me. It was good for me. I love when I get the ball in my hands and Pat likes to get the ball to me. No matter who you are, he’s trying to spread the ball around. He’s not going to focus on one or two guys.”
He added: “I felt like Pat was more of a player’s coach, he kind of got it. He was trying to do some different things than Norv was doing.”
As soon as Patterson found a groove, though, his contract expired. The former first-round pick is now a free agent and wants to make sure that whichever team signs him plans to actually use him.
“Of course, man. Two years I spent damn near on the sideline. That’s never a good feeling for any player. No player wants to go through that,” he said. “I need to know if I’m going to play or not. If not, I’ll take my talents elsewhere.”
To be clear, Patterson didn’t sound like a bitter person. He talked glowingly about the people of Minnesota and how he’s built a small family there — even if there is an allure to free agency.
“It’s kind of exciting,” he said. “I’ve never been a free agent. It’s just like coming out of college again. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know where you’re going to go. It’s a lot of excitement to me. It’ll feel good to lay around for a little bit and kick my feet up.”
When asked if he thought he was in Minnesota’s plans, Patterson had this:
This is Patterson’s second Pro Bowl and first since his rookie season. It’s also the second time he was named first-team All Pro.
After catching just two passes over 16 games a year ago, Patterson finally found himself as a complementary offensive player and not just a return specialist. Though he did not walk back on the most exciting part of his game. Patterson had a 104-yard kickoff return this year and averaged 31.7 yards per return this season. It was the third time in four years that he had at least one kickoff return for a touchdown.
That’s why hitting free agency is exciting.